If the manager says nothing, it can be very frustrating. It increases pressure and can lead to stress. You think you are doing OK, but you have no real way of knowing whether your manager agrees.
The “boss” may be pleasant. She comes in everyday and wishes you good morning. She might even ask how you are doing. But there is no real engagement. She doesn’t encourage you to give anything but the most perfunctory of answers. And she certainly doesn’t comment on the quality of your performance. Meanwhile, you are desperate to know what she really thinks and you’ve begun to suspect the worst.
This situation can feel totally demoralising.
So, what can you do?
Well, you have to grasp the nettle and ask for the feedback that isn’t being volunteered.
Here is how to go about it:
If your manager won’t talk to you, first gather your own evidence about your performance, for example, samples of your work, feedback from customers and statistics about results. Then, think about the questions you want to ask and how you are going to ask them; you don’t want to alienate your boss, if you can avoid it.
Now, ask for some time to talk. Choose your moment carefully – avoid times when your boss is likely to be under pressure or, for example, about to go to an important meeting. Make sure you get the appointment into the boss’s diary and that there is enough time for a proper discussion. Ideally, you need at least 30 minutes but not before, or immediately after, an event on which your boss needs to concentrate.
At the meeting, make sure you emphasize that it is your boss’s interests, as well as your own, that you care about. You want to make sure that you are doing the job the boss needs you to do. Avoid getting into arguments or being confrontational. Use the evidence you have collected; particularly, if you face any criticism you consider unjustified.
You are likely to pleasantly surprised; your boss is probably very happy with what you’re doing, but, if she isn’t, you need to be told that so that you can begin to put things right. Whatever the real situation, there is nothing to be gained by not knowing. So when your manager won’t talk to you, grasp that nettle and help your boss to help you succeed.
Picking your top career sector can seem daunting, but research and forward thinking can go a long way to ensuring you don’t get stuck in a dead-end.
This article originally appeared in LinkedIn Pulse in 2015
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